Admittedly, I was at work yesterday but have whizzed through the full 90 and studied over the highlights and I appreciate that opinions differ when you know the scoreline before seeing a ball kicked, as well as watching in retrospect.
When I saw the sides announced, I was surprised by a few moves by Slavisa which did end up to prove mistakes. Of course, you don't have to believe me, I have no proof this is what I thought but whatever. I was stunned to see both Ryan's in the full back positions; Fredericks hasn't been playing to the right standard for a few games now and Sessegnon provided very little against Blackburn; after dropped points in midweek, I was a little stunned to see Slavisa not go with more reliable and solid options in Scott Malone and Denis Odoi (the full back pairing I would expect to see start at Rotherham in April). I was also surprised to not see Cyriac start, he's made an impact in his cameos so far this season, and continuing to keep him on a limited run serves only to disrupt momentum. I have no qualms in not playing a striker, however, you have to have something resembling a forward in that position. Away from home, Sone Aluko played it perfectly as Newcastle were more inclined to press a higher defensive line and he dropped in which gave Sessegnon all of that space into behind to exploit. However, at home, teams will sit back, especially with our offensive and possession qualities, so we need somebody to move in and around the oppositions lines of defence to give our passing a focal point - Lucas Piazon does this excellently.
Another mistake, for me at least, was taking off Kevin McDonald, I think he at least would helped a lot in preventing the two second half Wolves goals. As our sole holding midfielder in the entire squad, I think he'd have known to move into the position the ball was played into Weimann, whereas both centre backs are positioned about where they should be but Johansen on the edge of the box has to disrupt that passing lane. No player in that position means Fredericks now has to move heavily out of position; of which Weimann takes advantage of with aplomb.
For the third goal (and 1-3), I don't think Tim Ream has to come all the way into Helder Costa, when you see where he is on the pitch, all you have to do is block the passing option into (what would be) Dave Edwards, Sessegnon (although skinned) is doing just about enough to push Costa wide - between Sessegnon, Ream and Button, there's no way Costa should be allowed to find a team mate in that positioning - it's panic defending. Again, easy to say when you know the result, in the moment and losing 2-1, there was probably too much of "I have to get that ball" rather than cooly but quickly problem solving.
It surprises me that we don't change it up more frequently, I've long been a fan of a three man defence and long time posters on this site will back me up on that one. The ability to keep teams guessing and show in-game tactical flexibility is a great way to change games without making multiple substitutes. Cardiff away in the Cup was one of our stronger performances and that was aided hugely by Denis Odoi playing as an in between full back/centre back which allowed both Ryan's (ironically after previous comments in this post) to make an impact in the final third.
Over the course of the season, it has amazed me more and more than Slavisa hasn't changed the team up more regularly. The midfield trio has been pretty much playing 90 minutes of every game since October when we've had Jozabed, Parker and Christensen contracted to us in that period. We've also not even thought about a potential 4231 to give one of those midfielders a break to get another attacking player (Kebano pre-AFCON maybe) into the team. Jokanovic had a reputation at Watford of constant tweaks and team changes both in between matches and in game, so it surprises me we've not seen it more. He's had the players and tools to do so but he's been pretty stubborn in his decisions beyond the odd full back and wide player change (speaking generally about the season).
Anyway, that sidetracked into another conversation. Back to the point, plenty of mistakes by all yesterday, the reason I didn't break down Wolves' first is because it's pretty simple and apocalyptic defending from Ryan Fredericks and god knows where Tomas Kalas is to cut out the passing channel, Ream has to come across to the right hand side of defence meaning Sessegnon is always the wrong side of Cavaleiro.
Beyond players needing a break, I think we simply need to be more imaginative and creative tactically.
Whatever happens this season, just remember, the year before Tigana took us up, we finished 9th. What did we add the next season? Importantly, game changers and match winners in Luis Boa Morte and Louis Saha as well as the knowhow of a John Collins who could still give us the quality of the past even if his legs were beyond his prime and another goal scoring threat in Barry Hayles. Other than that, the squad didn't change much: if we don't go up this season, I don't think we need more than 4/5 quality additions to take the title let alone top six.
I can no longer be bothered to write, so thanks for reading.